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Science, Technology and Medicine open access publisher.Publish, read and share novel research. Rezende F A.2006A complexidade possivel de ser transposta na conformacao de ambientes de ensino aprendizagem a distancia.
Bielschowsky C E2006Educacao Superior a distancia: umaestrategiaparaavaliacaoinstitucional. 1,2Department of Radiation Physics,1 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TXThe University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston,2 Houston, TXSt. An anthropomorphic head phantom, constructed from a water-equivalent plastic shell with only a spherical target, was modified to include a nonspherical target (pituitary) and an adjacent organ at risk (OAR) (optic chiasm), within 2 mm, simulating the anatomy encountered when treating acromegaly.
In assessing the quality of the overall treatment procedure, patient-image acquisition, treatment planning, and dose delivery should all be considered. Currently, for quality assurance and credentialing institutions in clinical trials involving SRS, the Radiological Physics Center (RPC) uses an anthropomorphic head phantom with a simple, spherical target of diameter 1.9 cm.
With input from the RTOG and Advanced Technology Consortium (ATC), it was determined that there was a need for a more rigorous test in credentialing institutions participating in SRS clinical trials. The aim of this study is to address the need for a more rigorous test in credentialing institutions that wish to participate in SRS clinical trials. The anthropomorphic outer shell to the phantom (left), the dosimetry insert containing radiochromic film and TLD (middle), and the modified imaging insert containing the target and OAR (right) are shown. Transverse view of patient MRI (left) with optic apparatus and transverse view of phantom with proposed target (red) and OAR (green). As the means for evaluating point-based dosimetry, TLD-100 powder, in small capsules, was placed into the dosimetry insert used during irradiation. As a means of measuring 2D dose distributions, radiochromic films (GAFCHROMIC MD-55 film; Nuclear Associates, Carle Place, NY) were used. After irradiation, all films were stored together such that they had the same temperature, light exposure, and background radiation levels.
CT images obtained with the imaging insert in place were used to create a treatment plan that met the dose prescription and normal tissue constraints as specified by a proposed acromegaly clinical trial. Three different treatment plans, adhering to the agreed dose specifications listed in Table 1 were generated, one for each of three treatment delivery systems: a Gamma Knife radiosurgery system (Elekta AB, Stockholm, Sweden), CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system (Accuray, Sunnyvale, CA), and linac delivery using a Varian Novalis machine (Varian Medical Systems, Palo Alto, CA).
Isodose lines in the axial (left), sagittal (top right), and coronal (bottom right) planes at isocenter, taken from the CyberKnife treatment plan are shown as an example of a treatment plan that meets the established credentialing criteria. In order to perform the gamma analysis and compare reported TPS calculated data with the measured doses, the positioning of the phantom film dosimeters was registered with the coordinate system of the TPS dose distribution. Because the TPS-calculated data are registered to the imaging insert and the film is registered to the dosimetry insert, it is necessary to ensure proper spatial relationship between the two different inserts.
Development of the treatment planning criteria that institutions must meet in a quality assurance audit needed to provide clinically realistic challenges while being reasonably achievable given the phantom design.
The phantom was irradiated three times with each radiosurgery system, to test for reproducibility.
Reproducibility results for TLD measurements in three irradiations of the phantom using Gamma Knife, CyberKnife, and linac delivery systems. Reproducibility results for gamma analysis in three irradiations of the phantom using Gamma Knife and CyberKnife delivery systems. A visual inspection of the gamma maps identified a general trend of the areas where pixels were nearest the failing criteria for Gamma Knife and CyberKnife deliveries, shown in Fig. Gamma maps taken from coronal films of CyberKnife irradiation (left) and Gamma Knife irradiation (right) are shown. Reproducibility results for distance-to-agreement measurements in three irradiations of the phantom using a linac-based delivery system. Dose profiles of film measurement (blue) and TPS reported (green) doses from linac-based delivery along the superior–inferior direction of the coronal film plane. Dose profiles of film measurement (blue) and TPS reported (green) doses from linac-based delivery along the superior–inferior direction of the sagittal film plane. Modifications made to the imaging insert of a previously developed head phantom have provided a realistic clinical planning and delivery challenge to audited institutions. Reproducibility tests on the phantom using three means of treatment delivery, Gamma Knife radiosurgery system, CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system, and standard linear accelerator delivery, showed the phantom performed in a consistent manner.
This study was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute (CA01093), Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (CA21661), and Advanced Technology Consortium (CA081647). IntroductionDistance Education constitutes one of the education fields that are evolving rapidly around the world. The target and OAR spatial proximity provided a more realistic treatment planning and dose delivery exercise. To that end, a phantom was designed, developed, and tested for reproducibility to assess the overall usefulness of the phantom as a credentialing tool for SRS delivery by a Gamma Knife radiosurgery system, CyberKnife robotic radiosurgery system, and standard linac-based radiosurgery system. 1, was constructed of hollow plastic and supplied by The Phantom Laboratory (Salem, New York).
The latter calibration is done by irradiating TLD to a known dose from a cobalt-60 system in order to determine the system sensitivity. The high spatial resolution, low spectral sensitivity, tissue equivalence, and lack of angular dependence all made the film a good dosimeter for steep dose gradients found in SRS plans. However, the clinical trial constraints were modified for this phantom to make the objective achievable for the phantom anatomy. The film registration was performed using six pinpricks made in the radiochromic film prior to irradiation and related to the known coordinate of each pinprick relative to the center of the dosimetry insert. The phantom was imaged using an AcQsim CT scanner (Phillips Healthcare, Amsterdam, The Netherlands) with a Leksell stereotactic frame (Elekta) for immobilization. With submillimeter agreement in each direction, it was determined that comparison between measurement and dose calculation could be accurately performed. To address the latter point, the dose constraints on the OAR were relaxed from ? 1% of the OAR volume receiving 8 Gy to ? 10% of the OAR volume receiving 8 Gy. The measured to TPS-calculated dose ratio was 0.94 for the linac-based delivery and was outside the proposed ± 5% credentialing criterion. As with the absolute dose, this low coefficient of variation indicates a high degree of reproducibility, which was desired for this phantom.
The dose planes of interest were exported as ASCII files and compared to film manually in MATLAB, as shown in Figs. The inclusion of a target and critical structure that mimic real human anatomy provide for a more clinically relevant test when assessing institutions ability to deliver consistent and accurate radiation doses. Results indicate that the phantom provides a high degree of reproducibility under carefully controlled conditions.
Outcome of gamma knife radiosurgery in 82 patients with acromegaly: correlation with initial hypersecretion. Hypofractionated CyberKnife radiosurgery for perichiasmatic pituitary adenomas: early results.
Design, development, and implementation of the Radiological Physics Center’s pelvis and thorax anthropomorphic quality assurance phantoms.
Design and implementation of an anthropomorphic quality assurance phantom for intensity-modulated radiation therapy for the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group. The development of a mailable phantom for remote quality audit of stereotactic radiosurgery [abstract].
So, it is possible to consider it as an important instrument to reach youngsters and adults whom learning needs were not satisfactorily met by the traditional educational system.
Carvalho, de , 2006Educacao a Distancia: a experiencia de uma organizacao militar com sede no Rio de Janeiro. Desafios da Educacao a Distancia na Formacao de Professores.Brasilia, Secretaria de Educacao a Distancia. A separate dosimetry insert contained two TLD for absolute dosimetry and radiochromic film, in the sagittal and coronal planes, for relative dosimetry. The measured treated volume is an ellipsoid, with diameters determined from the location of the prescription dose located on the orthogonal film profiles. The realistic size and human-like features of this outer shell allow for the use of most stereotactic immobilization devices. The capsules are about 15 mm in height and 5 mm in diameter, and have a 1 mm wall thickness. Two sheets of film were oriented in the sagittal and coronal planes of the phantom and were located such that the intersection of the film closely corresponded to the center of the target as viewed from the transverse cross section. Specifically, the dose constraint to the optic chiasm was modified from ? 1% of the OAR volume receiving 8 Gy to being ? 10% of the OAR volume receiving 8 Gy.
The phantom was irradiated three consecutive times with minimal disturbance of phantom positioning when exchanging dosimeters between irradiations for each plan to test for reproducibility and dose delivery accuracy.
By registering the pinpricks during film analysis and comparing the distances between points to measured values, the phantom was successfully registered with a high degree of reproducibility. Using the generated images at a 1 mm slice spacing from scans with both the dosimetry insert and imaging insert in place, the positional relationship of the center of the target in the imaging insert and the intersection of the films within the dosimetry insert was determined. The position of the V-shaped organ at risk relative to the target was also confirmed to be 2 mm superior to the superior edge of the target. It was found that the close proximity of the OAR to the target (2 mm spacing) made it unreasonably difficult to deliver an adequate dose to the target while sparing the mock OAR of excess dose under the original definition. These numbers were low enough to imply acceptable reproducibility in an auditing and credentialing tool. Closer inspection of the individual TLDs showed that the right anterior–inferior TLD was located in a region of steep dose falloff for the linac plan in which even a small shift of 1 mm or 2 mm will result in unacceptable underirradiating of the TLD. The improved design and modified dose specifications have provided a thorough means of evaluating stereotactic radiosurgery from start to finish.
This demonstrates the usefulness of the phantom as a quality assurance tool in the evaluation of treatment accuracy for improving patient safety and the credentialing of institutions participating in clinical trials utilizing stereotactic radiosurgery. The prescription was 25 Gy to 90% of the GTV, with ? 10% of the OAR volume receiving ? 8 Gy for the phantom trial. The target volume is that corresponding to the 1.9 cm diameter spherical structure in the imaging insert of the phantom. At the base of the phantom, a PVC pipe and fitting are used for filling the hollow phantom with water. A dose response curve for the batch of film used was determined to correct for nonlinearities in the film’s dose response. The phantom dose limits alongside the proposed clinical trial specifications are listed in Table 1. Plans consisted of a 15-shot Gamma Knife plan, an 87-node 190 beam CyberKnife plan, shown in Fig.
Multiple measurements demonstrated registration agreement for all irradiations to be within 0.4 mm. While this may not match the clinical criteria exactly, it was felt that, for the purpose of a quality assurance audit, a participating institution’s ability to meet predefined dose constraints would still be adequately tested. While these regions showed systematic trends in being nearer to the maximum allowable difference, the overwhelming majority of the pixels were still within the passing criteria, as shown in Table 4.


This educational methodology has shown a new paradigm that permits access to much more people at the universities, as well as the improvements of the qualitative level of the professors who haven’t much time to upgrade themselves, mainly in Brazil where most primary and high school teachers dwell in more than one school to complement their wages which are very low.Due to the complexity of this process, which is still new for Brazilian reality, the institutions involved in this modality of education should spend time and money in evaluating the system performance in order to have it run smoothly. The modified phantom was used to test the rigor of the treatment planning process and phantom reproducibility using a Gamma Knife, CyberKnife, and linear accelerator (linac)-based radiosurgery system. To minimize the accumulation of air bubbles within the filled shell, a small hole near the base allows for air to escape while filling the phantom shell.
Six small holes in the dosimetry insert allowed for each film to be pricked with a needle in order to ensure proper spatial registration with respect to the phantom and treatment plan data. While this error would result in a failure for the audited institution, the small coefficient of variation in the linac deliveries still supports the high degree of reproducibility in phantom performance that this study aimed to show.
DTAs were measured along these profile edges due to the superior placement of the organ at risk with respect to the target in the imaging insert. A cylindrical recess in the base extends into the shell until just below the phantom head’s crown.
The target and OAR proximity provided a more realistic treatment planning and dose delivery exercise than the original single spherical target design. Each film was saved as a 12-bit tagged image film format file, and an average background from an unexposed piece of film was subtracted before film analysis.
Each learning instrument or tool needs to be addressed for improving the quality of the knowledge the student will achieve during his learning process.
TLD results from three irradiations on a CyberKnife and Gamma Knife agreed with the calculated target dose to within ± 4% with a maximum coefficient of variation of ± 2.1%. This allows for the insertion of cylindrical imaging and dosimetry inserts, shown to the right of the head shell in Fig. Similar to the outer shell, the imaging insert was constructed to be hollow and watertight to reduce weight, while still allowing for tissue-like conditions during the imaging process. During analysis, the film’s dose distribution was normalized to the measured TLD dose in the phantom. Within such a context, this chapter aims to analysetutors’, students’ and university teachers’ perception about quality assurance in a distance undergraduate management course offered in partnership with Brazil Open University, the Ministry of Education and the Federal University of Lavras in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The next sections aim to highlight information and some authors’ points of view on Distance Education conceptualization and challenges, and quality assurance in Distance Education.
Point comparisons of treatment plan calculated doses at the location of the TLD and measured dose data were done using the average of the two measured to reported dose ratios. A 2D gamma analysis comparing the calculated dose distribution to the measured dose distribution using the film dose distribution normalized to the TLD doses was performed. In the sequence, the authorspresent some aspects of the methodology used to gather data to discuss the Brazilian experience on distance education regarding teachers’, tutors’ and students’ points of views. A modified, anatomically realistic SRS phantom was developed that provided a realistic clinical planning and delivery challenge that can be used to credential institutions wanting to participate in NCI-funded clinical trials.
Gamma analysis was performed using an in-house program executed in MATLAB (The MathWorks, Natick, MA).
Finally, the authorsmake some final considerations about the study and leave some ideas for new research on this matter in Brazil and worldwide.2. For this reason, in evaluating the linac-based plan, the dose planes of interest were exported as ASCII files and compared to film manually in MATLAB. One form of distance teaching is using the Internet; gathering information together and making it available for those in need of it.
Online courses offer opportunities in creating new ways of learning, and integration of multiple media (text, image, audio, and video) in a single tool. On the other hand, Distance Education can be seeing as a systematically organized way of self study in which the student instructs himself from the study material that is presented to him, and the follow up and the student success supervision are accomplished by a group of tutors and or professors [2]. Thus, this alternative reduces the number of excluded people from the digital world by teaching, informing and training them in Computer Science. However, the evasion in continued formation courses is still very high and has caused a deep concern to its idealizers and other people involved in Distance Education.
As a result, this theme is becoming more relevant each day, calling for identification of gaps and faults, which can be prevented, so that the students can finalize their courses without the evasion risks. Thus, identifying higher quality patterns is relevant for corporate or traditional education institutions. However, understanding the authors’ views and perceptions about distance courses is important.Keeping these considerations in mind, to validate the use of this methodology is relevant to evaluate its results. Distance education challengesThe specific characteristics of Distance Education show the potential of long distance teaching and learning not only in Brazil, but worldwide. Many regions in the country are completely excluded from electric energy (which is the first condition to connect people to the internet to provide them more access to the evolution of digital technology)[5]. These are the moving powers necessary to promote large changes on Distance Education inside the country.Another problem is related to the low family income level, which reflects directly on the school grade or level among children and even adults.
In this specific case, the actions of local, regional and federal governments are essential to minimize this problem. In this context, The Ministry of Education of Brazil has created specific regulations for implementing Distance Education as an official teaching in the country.
The main specific regulation for implementing Distance Education in Brazil is the Decree No. This Decree characterizes Distance Education as an official educational modality, being its didactic and pedagogical mediation in the teaching-learning process developed via Information and Communication technologies, and by its teachers and students developing educational activities in different times and places [6]. In this context, a big challenge for all players at the educational sector is to ensure quality at this modality of education.
Quality assurance in distance educationDistance Education constitutes one of the education fields that are evolving rapidly around the world.
This educational methodology has shown a new paradigm that permits access to much more people at the universities, as well as the improvements of the qualitative level of the professors who has not much time to upgrade themselves, mainly in Brazil where most of primary and high school teachers dwell in more than one school to complement their wages, which are very low.For this reason, the whole process of Distance Education needs to face an overall evaluation of assurance quality. Not only Brazil, but also other parts of the world illustrate the importance of quality standards. The American Council on Education, in 1996, the American Federation of Teacher, in 2000, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation,in 2005, have distributed and circulated documents outlining quality standard for distance education. Therefore, each learning instrument or tool needs to be addressed for improving the quality of the knowledge the student will get or achieve. This is a quality assurance framework in distance education to be adopted by all initiatives on this modality of education in Brazil. The evaluating occurs before the course starts to give “Authorization” for its beginning, two years after to give “Recognition” to the course and after the first graduation to offer “Renew of Recognition”. This framework involves eight aspects and they shouldbe fullyexpressed in thePedagogical Political Project of every distance education course [9]. The evaluators have to consider all these aspects during in loco evaluation in order to accredit the course as a qualified course.Keeping these ideas in mind, we may say that it is relevant to evaluate distance education, because it is a reality in Brazil and worldwide.
A proper evaluation will assure improviments and quality in order to offer an appropriated knowledge for people in different areas of the country and people who did not meet the educational standards for their proper age.
One of these experiences is the CEDERJ Consortium, celebrated among higher degree institutions in the state of Rio de Janeiro and the state government of Rio de Janeiro. The Consortium for Distance Education in the State of Rio de Janeiro - CEDERJ was officially launched by the honourable State Governor, the honourable Science and Technology State Secretary, and the Magnificent Rectors of the public universities in the State of Rio de Janeiro, on January the 26th, 2000.
In the second semester of 2005 there were 9,864 students registered for 5 graduation courses: Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Pedagogy, and Computer Science spread all over the state.
The main evaluation is done in loco in the poles and the student still cumulates evaluation points taken from the evaluation at distance [11]. This is an important iniciative of the Ministry of Education and many other public universities and municipalitiesto offer distance education free of charge inside the country.
For all these reasons, the next section will address the evaluation process developed by CEDERJ and its partner universities to ensure quality in this modality of education. A practical experience on evaluating distance educationThe Consortium for Distance Education in the State of Rio de Janeiro - CEDERJ is composed by The Federal University of Riode Janeiro (UFRJ), The Fluminense Federal University (UFF), The Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ), The State University of the Fluminense North (UENF), The State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and The Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IFET). CEDERJ’s headquarter is located at Visconde de Niteroi Street – 1364 – Mangueira – Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. In order to understand the process of adapting methodologies and instruments to evaluate distance education courses[13] discussed the evolution of the evaluation methodology in this regional consortium experience.
The main idea of this study was to present the results of the evaluation performed in that consortium. The information was gathered mainly from structured questionnaires available at the virtual platform and technical visits organized to evaluate presentialy the different municipalities where CEDERJ courses were offered in partnership with the six universities of the state of Rio de Janeiro. These authors came to the conclusion that evaluation methodology turned into a very broad process that was also very important to redefine the methodology for the following years. In 2008, CEDERJ applied a different questionnaire with open questions for students, tutors, teachers, poles, directors and course coordinators [14]. This evaluation was mainly influenced by the amount of data gathered from the previous evaluation.
The previous evaluation is described below.The whole evaluation process counts on 5 steps or phases. The first one was to stimulate students and staff working at the regional poles, using advertisements fixed on the boards, messages left in the virtual platform and tutors talking to the students. The evaluation was held during the second semester of the year, the first experience happened on October 2005, and involved filling out the questionnaires and the technical visits performed in each pole or municipality.
The next phase was the self-evaluation, carried on the base of the gathered data from the questionnaires and technical visits [15].The forth phase was an external evaluation in order to double check the data and process some extra analysis on them and get views from different actors who are not directly involved in the process. It was necessary to organize a seminar in early October 2006 to offer subsidies to establish future actions based on the process of self-evaluation and external evaluation [16].The evaluation to access quality of CEDERJ distance courses was composed by a questionnaire composed of 8 main blocks of questions and the students had to tick one of the five graduation possibilities in the scale, which varied from Poor (1) to Excellent (5). The first block was related to the regional pole infrastructure, which accessed and evaluated students’ points of views about the place where they have direct contact with other students and mainly the presence tutorial; as shown in Appendix.
In this block the student was supposed to evaluate the tools that were available for their interaction to distance tutorial and all of the other facilities they have in it. This one was very important because most of the students place much more emphasis on the printed material then the other facilities provided by the system [17].In the sequence, the students evaluated local tutorials considering different topics, and then at distance tutorials considering timetables, tutor attention and so on. In the following block they pointed out their views about local evaluations and at distance evaluations analyzing other topics.
The students’ assiduity comes next, and its efficiency was measured by the number of times the students access the platform, and attend local and at distance tutorials. It varied from none (so the student ticked number 1) up to more than 20 times (so the student ticked number 5). It is worth mentioning that the questionnaires provided very rich information to draw graphics and tables for visualizing the results according to the different poles, courses, and even subjects.The questionnaire was returned to 3,345 students, whom were usually enrolled in 4 or 5 subjects per semester. The results were summarized in different topics, like: local tutorial, at distance tutorial, teaching team, subject evaluation tests, didactic booklets, didactic material available at the platform, U-Virtual or Virtualplatform, and infrastructure of the poles. A program was developed to categorize and summarize all the data gathered from the questionnaires [18].In this first round of the process, it was gathered 1,590 written messages.
From these observations it was elaborated a summarized report, per area, with the main problems and their suggestions to improve the quality of the system as a whole.
A part from that, a team of courses representatives visited the poles in order to perform the second step of this phase.


Each course sent its representatives, and CEDERJ itself sent a representative to spend almost a day in touch with pole directors, tutors and students. The team also counted on one professional in charge of performing a short conference for the whole group of students and tutors from each pole [19].As a result of each visit the team leader prepared a report summarizing the findings and addressing it to the evaluating team leader in the CEDERJ headquarter. The report has 2 or 3 pages and all the reports were sent to other colleagues for disseminating the information. The final phases of the evaluation process were the self-evaluation and then the external evaluation. Thus, some seminars were set to discuss the outcomes and prepare the following steps [20].The evaluation methodology, presented here, has been implemented in the consortium and it seems to be working properly. The data from the questionnaires are usually processed into graphics and tables in order to better visualise and understand the students’ perceptions and points of views about CEDERJ experience. The whole methodology has beenimplemented every year and it is planned to last for one whole year.
This methodology is providingsubsidies to improve the quality of the whole process including changes in the platform content and design, written material and tutorial activities. Since evaluation is a continuos process, CEDERJ improved the instrument of data collection and turned it into a more flexible instrument with structured and open ended questions.
Due to the complexity of this process, which is still new for Brazilian reality, the institutions involved in this modality of education should spend time and money in evaluating the system performance. Thus, the Federal University of Lavras and other different universities around the country, in partnership with the Bank of Brazil, offered an undergraduate managemnet course on distance bases.
This is another experience and this chapter deals with some empirical results of teachers’, tutors’ and students’ perceptions about the course. The course was offered in partnership with the Brazil Open University and the Ministry of Education. Each university attends some poles in order to certify the students at the end of the course.
This experience is singular in the country, so it is relevant to improve the pattern of life within the country too.
It is worth to say that this course is not a sequential one; it is just one entrance course.
This is a “pilot project” that is subsidizing the decisions of the Ministry of Education regarding the offering of other different undergraduate courses on distance education modality.For this chapter the authorschose the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) as a sample for this research. Among them, 130 are staff and members of the Bank of Brazil, and 159 belong to the civil society.
The first section of the questionnaire was aimed to describe the profile of the respondents.
All the main actors (students, tutors, and teachers) involved in the educational process were supposed to answer it. The main section of the questionnaire addressed questions related to printed material, platform access, tutorial, chat, exams, meeting, and other issues related to the process of offering the course. This survey provided a huge amount of data that was addressed to improve the quality of the experience itself and the quality of other distance education initiatives, like the Public Management Course, which is being offered by Brazil Open University in partnership with UFLA and other universities around the country. All these topics and other ones that may be related to them will be addressed in the sequence.Students were asked to evaluate the forms of communication between the actors in this model of education. As alternatives to this issue there were four interaction mechanisms: video conferencing, electronic mail, forums and chats. Those with the most significant results were e-mail and forum, with positive acceptance of 81% and 79% respectively, as shown on Figure 1. Instruments of immediate interaction, such as video conference and chat, were badly evaluated probably because of the quality of internet connection in certain localities where the students undertake the use of instruments of immediate interaction, like what was indirectly mentioned by [22] when he pointed out the challenges for distance education in a big country, such as Brazil.At Figure 2, we may observe tutors stated that students’ and teachers’ involvement predominate as they are considered the most important aspects for maintaining the quality of distance education. This reinforces that, although it is a course that relies on technology, in a decisive manner the human component makes a difference.Respondents pointed textbooks or teaching materials as extremely important and significant inthe process of teaching and learning at distance bases. All items questioned were evaluated with agreement by a least 77% of respondents (Figure 3).
Teachers and tutors informed that interation with the content, development of skills and competences, interation among communication resources, and orientation related to the understanding of the proposed activities that are relevant to assess the quality of suitable printed material in distance education.
There isclearly agap betweenthe assessmentof tutorsand teachersabout whatis important and theassessment ofstudentson thesame time.
The importance of practice that is emphasized by the studentsdoes not meetthe same expectations inresponses of tutors andteachers.
On the other hand, there is a convergenceof ideasaboutpersonalized services to be offered for different students. Another itemoften mentionedis the lack of face reactionof the students, with 27% of responses. It should be notedthattime managementby studentswas not consideredavery significantdifficulty.Teacherspointed out lack of commitmentof the tutorsand absence oftheir participation asthe majordifficulties encounteredin the interactionwith them in order to warrant the quality of the educational process. So, one may say that teachers should be more integrated with tutors to improve the quality of distance learning process. On this regard, we may point to the proposal of [23] about thecharacteristics of the environment that provides knowledge construction. On their words, this environment needs to offer activities centered on active students, and to offer opportunities for negotiation and interpretation involving several perspectives. This is an important fact to observe because the students themselves are aware that their commitiment to distance course interfere in the quality of the courses. In this case, managers and course coordinators should look for alternatives of tecnologies or any other combination of present activities to involve the students more within the course and its technologies. Another important factor which is related to this one is the lack of habit of working with interactivity on the learning platform. The third limiting fator for tutors was also mentioned in the third position for the students, which is interaction of involved professionals (15%).
So, it is possible to state that students and tutors have the same points of views about the limiters of quality on distance education. On this specific case, the team working with distance education should address these kinds of limiters during the definition of the pedagogical project to delimiateacitivitesansuring that different actors involved in the operacionalization of the course work together, as pointed out by [24]. Teachers, tutors and course coordinators have to work on participatory and integrative bases to decrease evasion during the courses.
Following these two limiters, comes the lack of habit of working with interactivity as another important condition to improve quality in this educational process. Comparing these three points of views, we may say that all the actors involved in the education process have almost the same perception about limiters in this modality of education. It helps to reinforce one of the challenges for improving quality of Distance Education presented by different authors.
It shows that communication between the parts involved in distance education courses is not as good as communication between parts involved in presential courses (37%). The second most relevant item pointed by students is related to the impessoality that happens on distance courses. Apart from these, 23% of the respondents informed that lack of satkeholder involvement is another deficiency on distance education courses.
First, but with a slightly higher difference, are the difficultiesrelated to communication among actors involved in the process followed by lack of stakeholder involvement (Figure 15). The other two options impersonality (24%) and attachement to presential paradigm (21%) were also almost equally mentioned by teachers. For this reason, one may state that information technology is relevant to improve the quality of distance education courses. As this course was a national piloting project it faced some difficulties mainly regarding communication systems involving students, tutors and teachers’ interaction, educational material that sometimes were not totally appropriated for distance education courses and the difficulties regarding the multidisciplinary team, which was spread in different cities and sometimes could not articulate themselves properly to address students’, tutors’ and teachers’ needs on time.5. Conclusion and recommendationDistance Education is showing a significant growth in the last few years in Brazil and more institutions are getting enrolled in this kind of education. The year of 2005 ended up with surprising news, and for the first time in Brazil, this education model was considered one of the priorities of the Ministry of Education and Culture(MEC). The reason is the great demand for vacancies, mainly in higher education, and the spread of information and communications technologies that make it possible.
Apart from that, Distance Education may provide a great impulse to presential education because teachers receive support to elaborate didatic material and training to participate in the web platform. Distance Education is growing, motivated by the demand of many students finishing secondary school, and other people from different ages and backgrounds that have begun to use on-line training as a way to update their knowledge in Brazil. This new educational paradigm is meeting students' expectations because they may study and work at the same, and they do not need to spend money and time to move from home to school every day.
This saved time can be allocated for reading, exchanging ideas and information with other students, tutors and teachers by the internet or a free phone line.CEDERJ experience, a consortium of the 6 universities of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal Instituteof Rio de Janeiro, is one of the well established distance education experience, which is working to improve the access and the quality of knowledge offered to the population in this state. More than 30.000 students are enrolled in its 9 graduation programs and for this reason, it is necessary to evaluate the quality of the system as a whole.
The evaluation methodology, presented here, has being implemented in the consortium since 2006 and it suffered some changes during the process.
One of the most significant changes was on the instrument of data collection to gather the students’ opinionsabout their courses and the CEDERJ consortium as a whole. The technical visits provided subsidies to re-orient this process of evaluating distance education in Brazil.
This methodology is supposed to provide subsidies to improve the quality of the whole process including changes in the platform content and design, written material, tutorial activities, poles infrastructure and support, coordinating team and other actors involved. Another experience addressed in this chapter was the undergraduate Management Course offered by The Federal University of Lavras in partnership with the Bank of Brazil and the Ministry of Education and Culture.
This course was a pilot project which subsidized the organization and institucionalization of the Brazil Open University. The questionnaire was available at the distance education platform.This research aimed to discuss students’, teachers’ and tutors’ perception about quality assurance at distance education courses. It analyzed their perception about technology, mechanism of interaction, tutors’ and teachers’ involvement, communication tool used in this modality of education and teaching material (textbook) used during the course.The results provided a useful amount of information to improve the quality of the course, including improvements on communication tools, printed material, and even the learning evaluating system and the facilities of the system used to implement the course. It also subsidized some important decisions of the Ministry of Education and Culture and Brazil Open University about offering new undergraduate course in the country. In the second semester of 2009, a Public Management Course started in the same bases of this pilot project. The Federal University of Lavras is offering this new course in six new municipalities, and the “pilot project” on Management finished in the middle of 2011. Nowadays, the National Institute of Educational Studies – INEP is evaluating every distance course within Brazil to offer Accreditation regarding the framework stated at document References of Quality for Higher Distance Education [27].Since the experiences addressed in this chapter were valuable to improve the quality of the courses, new researches at CEDERJ consortium, within the new courses offered by Brazil Open University and other broad iniciatives on distance education should be made to assess the quality of the courses offered nowadays. It is also recommended that new researches should be carried addressing the Accreditation in public and private institutions in order to evaluate the appropriateness of the model and the difficulties faced by the institutions in order to attend quality standard desired for distance education.



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